Network Computers and* newsgroups FAQ v1.10

Network Computers and* newsgroups FAQ v1.10

Post by James Sear » Tue, 27 Nov 2001 19:17:26

Archive-name: network-computers/faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 14 Apr 1998
Version: 1.10

    Network Computer and* newsgroups FAQ v1.10

  This FAQ contains information and answers to common questions about
 both Network Computers and the* usenet
 newsgroups. The latest version of this FAQ is also available on the
 web in HTML format at


Subject: 1. Contents.

   1. Contents.
   2. What is a Network Computer?
   3. Will Network Computers replace traditional PCs?
   4. What different types of Network Computer are there?
   5. What are thin clients?
   6. What are dumb terminals?
   7. What are set top boxes?
   8. What is the Network Computer Profile?
   9. What is the Mobile Network Computer Reference Specification?
  10. What do common abbreviations and acronyms like NCI mean?
  11. Where can I find out more about Network Computers?
  12. Where can I buy a Network Computer?
  13. What newsgroups are available for Network Computer related topics?
  14. How do I post an announcement to
  15. What should I do if someone posts a wildly off topic article or
      "spam" to one of the* newsgroups?
  16. What should I do if I see "spam" in one of the
      computer.* newsgroups?
  17. Charter for
  18. Charter for
  19. Charter for
  20. Contact details and credits.


Subject: 2. What is a Network Computer?

  Network Computers (NCs) are a new type of affordable computing device
 which cost much less that traditional PCs to buy and maintain, they
 are also strongly standards based to ensure that numerous different
 hardware and software implementations will interoperate properly.


Subject: 3. Will Network Computers replace traditional PCs?

  No. NCs will be used mainly by the millions of people who currently
 do not own a traditional computer because of the high purchase and
 maintenance costs, and in numerous new applications such as digital
 TV set top boxes where there currently are no computers. There will
 always be more technically minded people, people running servers, and
 people who want ultimate flexibility who will use a PC type device,
 but they are now, and will continue to be, in the minority.

  With appropriate software some old PCs could be given a new lease of
 life and transformed into a NC like device, rather than being thrown


Subject: 4. What different types of Network Computer are there?

  Many different companies will be producing Network Computers for
 numerous different applications and markets, and there will be many
 different hardware and software implementations, which is why it is
 essential for NCs to conform to the Network Computer Profile (see
 section 8).

  Some of the general areas which the areas of Network Computers can
 be divided into are:

   * home NCs, typically with lower bandwidth, intermittent, network
     access and with a TV as a display device.

   * corporate NCs, typically higher bandwidth (eg Ethernet) network
     access, with better display devices, more like a traditional PC.

   * set top box NC, used to access digital or cable TV, normally with
     high speed network access.

   * dumb terminals, not really NCs as they just display the output of
     programs run on servers, however some NCs also support this method
     of operation for backwards compatibility.

   * PC NCs, normal computers which are running software which conforms
     to the same open standards as Network Computers.

   * Mobile NCs, devices such as palmtops, laptops, and PDAs, which
     which can be used as NCs when connected to a network but will also
     function independently (see section 9).


Subject: 5. What are thin clients?

  Thin clients are simpler computers or programs which are designed to
 work with a server, so that the client requires less complexity, local
 storage, processing, or maintenance. Network Computers are an example
 of thin clients.


Subject: 6. What are dumb terminals?

  Dumb terminals are display and input devices which don't process data
 and input locally, instead transmitting input to a computer to which it
 is connected and displaying the resulting output.

  Many people, especially the press, seem to confuse the idea of Network
 Computers with that of dumb terminals, referring to NCs as "dumbed
 down" computers. This is not true, unlike dumb terminals which simply
 display the output of a program running on a server elsewhere on the
 network, Network Computers actually do local processing and are much
 closer to PCs than to dumb terminals.

  Some Network Computers however do support protocols, such as X Window
 and ICA, which allow them to be used as dumb terminals to display the
 output of a program running on a server in additional to programs
 running locally, so that they are backwards compatible.


Subject: 7. What are set top boxes?

  Set top boxes are computing devices used in conjunction with the TV.
 Applications include decoding cable, digital terrestrial, or satellite
 transmissions, allowing access to video on demand, and providing access
 to the Internet.

  Some set top boxes (STBs) are also Network Computers and provide
 access to the Internet as well as their usual functions, other STBs
 are not Network Computers.


Subject: 8. What is the Network Computer Profile?

  The Network Computer Profile is the current standard to which all real
 Network Computers must comply. Maintained by the Open Group the profile
 outlines what minimum facilities a device must provide to be called
 a Network Computer, and what standards must be used to provide those
 facilities, eg SMTP for sending mail and HTTP for fetching web pages.

  Details can be found at


Subject: 9. What is the Mobile Network Computer Reference Specification?

  The Mobile Network Computer Reference Specification (MNCRS) is an
 extension to the Network Computer Profile (section 8), with special
 attention given to the unique requirements of mobile applications.

  Additions include requirements for working with little or no network
 connectivity, power usage monitoring, minimal bandwidth use, and so on.

  Details can be found at


Subject: 10. What do common abbreviations and acronyms like NCI mean?

  Here are some of the common abbreviations and acronyms and their
 meanings which you are likely to come across in the world of Network

   MNCRS Mobile Network Computer Reference Specification, based on the
         NCP but with additions unique to mobile application, see
         section 9.

   NC    Network Computer.

   NCI   Network Computer, Inc. - Oracle's NC subsidiary.

   NCOS  Network Computer Operating System, NCOS1 is based on Acorn's
         RISC OS, NCOS2 is based on NetBSD.

   NCP   Network Computer Profile, maintained by the Open Group it is
         the successor to the NCRP, see section 8.

   NCRP  Network Computer Reference Profile, developed by Oracle etc for
         the original NC, now the NCP maintained by the Open group.

   PDA   Personal Digital Assistant.

   STB   Set Top Box, a device which sits on or under a TV and is used
         to decode signals, access a network or services, etc.


Subject: 11. Where can I find out more about Network Computers?

  There are several places to find information about NCs on the web:     - The Open Group NC pages         - NCI, Oracle's NC subsidiary   - The NC reference profile      - The Mobile NC reference specification       - The NC news service    - Acorn Group plc - NC World magazine

  The NC news service is also available in Russian, with additional
 information about Acorn's NCs, at and in
 German at


Subject: 12. Where can I buy a Network Computer?

  If their regular dealer can not supply Network Computers on request
 companies, schools, and other organisations should contact a supplier
 such as:

  DLT Solutions        - NCI's distributor supplies NCI "Network in a    Box" 2, 10, or 20 unit packages and other NCI
  1.888.345.4NCI         hardware and software.

  Oregan Networks      - UK based company supplies ARM powered Proton Electric manufactured Network Computers, as
  44.1530.563311         well as their own server software.

  Individual users should be able to find a Network Computer in a local
 high street store, for example NetChannel <>
 claim their NCs are available nationally from the following companies:

   * In the US: Circuit City, Best Buy, Tops Appliance, The Good Guys,
     PC Richards, and other leading RCA dealers.

   * In the UK: Dixons, Currys, Index, Tempo, Scottish Power Sound &
     Vision, Alders, Harrods, and via mail order catalogues such as
     Innovations and Littlewoods.


Subject: 13. What newsgroups are available for Network Computer related

  The following usenet newsgroups are dedicated to the subject of
 Network Computers: Relative merits of Network Computers. Announcements relating to Network
                                 Computers. (Moderated)     Network Computers and related topics.

  The announcements group is moderated, see section 14 for details.


Subject: 14. How do I post an announcement to

  To ensure that only valid Network Computer related announcements are
 posted in the newsgroup it is moderated. This means that all articles
 have to be approved by the moderator before they appear in the
 newsgroup. There is a submission guidelines page available on the web
 to help with any questions you may have about submitting articles, it
 can be found at:

  Information about new Network Computers, standards, exhibitions,
 content rich Network Computer related web sites, and so on are all
 candidates for announcements in


Subject: 15. What should I do if someone posts a wildly off topic
             article to one of the* newsgroups?

  Unfortunately there will always be users who don't know what the
 newsgroup is actually for, and who don't bother to read this FAQ or
 the charters or even the newsgroups line before posting.

  If you see an article in a* newsgroup which
 has absolutely nothing to do with Network Computers you should under
 no circumstances reply, quote, or discuss it in the Network Computer
 newsgroups. Several articles saying why an article is off topic are
 just as annoying and off topic as the original article.

  Instead you may like to e-mail a polite note to the person who posted
 the original article including this FAQ, explaining what the newsgroup
 they posted to is for. Someone who gets several copies of the FAQ is
 unlikely to post another totally irrelevant article.

  You should not be rude or abusive when someone makes a simple mistake
 about where to post, however stupid that mistake may have been. Also
 don't attack people who are slightly off topic, this section only
 applies to "wildly off topic articles". "Spam" is also different
 matter, see section 16.


Subject: 16. What should I do if I see "spam" in one of the
   * newsgroups?

  "Spam" is defined as multiple posts of identical articles to many
 newsgroups. If you see the same totally off topic message in all the
 Network Computer newsgroups and in other newsgroups you read the
 chances are it is spam.

  Unlike people who post wildly off topic articles because they don't
 know what the group is for sending the FAQ to a spammer won't do any
 good, and the From: header is likely to be forged in spam anyway.
 Instead you should send a copy of the entire article which you think
 is spam, including /all/ headers, to the administrators of the site
 which the spam was posted from. As with off topic posts never quote,
 reply to, or discuss spam in the Network Computer newsgroups.

  For more information about usenet spam and junk e-mail and how to
 report it see the "Help! I've been Spammed! What do I do?" FAQ which
 is available at
 Also see the network abuse clearing house at


Subject: 17. Charter for

  The content of posts to should be
 current, textual, information, and must relate to the Network Computer
 (NC). This includes press releases and news items, as well as any other
 topical announcements relating to Network Computers. The group will
 also be used to distribute information relating to the
 computer.* newsgroups, for example a FAQ.

  Although this group is intended primarily for announcements relating
 to Network Computers which comply with Network Computer Inc's
 standards, other posts which are closely related to the topic of NCs
 will also be accepted if the moderators believe they are relevant and
 will be of interest to readers.

  Advertising is not permitted, unless the document contains information
 of interest to the intended audience of the newsgroup. For example an
 advert for a Network Computer exhibition or conference would be

  Repeat postings are not not acceptable unless there has been a major
 change to the information contained, or the posting is an accepted
 regular posting like a FAQ.

  This newsgroup will be moderated. Moderation policies:
 The moderators will accept any post which is in keeping with the above
 charter, and will NOT give more importance to announcements from any
 one company. Submissions which are clearly inappropriate will be
 rejected without a reason, any other marginal post will be returned to
 the sender with a note from the moderator explaining their decision.


Subject: 18. Charter for

  The newsgroup should be used for all
 discussions about the relative merits of the Network Computer compared
 to PCs or NetPCs, or one NC compared to another NC.

  Such discussions should be contained in this newsgroup, and should not
 take place in any other* newsgroups.


Subject: 19. Charter for

  The newsgroup is a general discussion area
 for any topic relating directly to Network Computers which comply with
 Network Computer Inc's specifications.

  Topics relating to the relative merits of Network Computers when
 compared to each other, or more likely to standard PCs or NetPCs
 should NOT be discussed in this group, but should be confined to the group.

  Advertising and announcements of any kind are not allowed in this
 newsgroup. If there is an advert or announcement relating to Network
 Computers then such a post should be directed to the moderated group

  Binaries are not permitted. This group will be unmoderated.


Subject: 20. Contact details and credits.

  This FAQ is at a relatively early stage, there is more information
 which will be added in due course, if you have a specific question
 please e-mail me at and I will add it to the FAQ. Also
 please contact me with any corrections or submissions of answers for
 the FAQ.

  There is a web site for this FAQ and everything else relating to the
 Network Computer newsgroups at

                 Copyright 1997, 1998, by James C N Sears <>.